Please note, the list of speakers is constantly being updated. Check back often for additions, changes and cancellations.

Kwame Alexander

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

Kwame Alexander, co-author of Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, is a poet, educator, and author of twenty-one books for children, including The Crossover, which was awarded the 2015 Newbery Medal.

The founder of two literacy organizations, he regularly travels the world as a literacy advocate and expert. Currently the poet laureate of LitWorld, Alexander lives in Virginia.

Speaker's Website Speaker's Facebook Speaker's Twitter Genre: Children/Youth, Poetry

Susan Berres

Susan Berres, founder and organizer of the Bus Lines Community Poetry contest, seeks to promote poetry and flash fiction in public spaces and provide opportunities for writers of all ages to share their work.

Genre: Poetry

James Brasfield

Infinite Altars

James Brasfield, author of Infinite Altars, has received fellowships in poetry from the NEA and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He is also a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the American Association for Ukrainian Studies Prize in Translation, and the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.

Speaker's Website Genre: Poetry

J.K. Daniels

Wedding Pulls

J.K. Daniels’ first book, Wedding Pulls, was selected by C.D. Wright for the New Southern Voices Poetry Prize. A graduate of George Mason University’s MFA program, she teaches creative writing at Northern Virginia Community College. Her work appears at Queer South, Best New Poets, and elsewhere.

Speaker's Website Genre: Poetry

Ina Dixon

Ina Dixon coordinates the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities program History United, which builds a renewed community identity through engagement with the past in the Danville, Va. area.

Speaker's Twitter Genre: Poetry

Joanne Gabbin

Shaping Memories: Reflections of African American Women Writers

Joanne Gabbin, author of Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition and editor of Shaping Memories: Reflections of African American Women Writers, is director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and Professor of English at James Madison University.

Speaker's Website Speaker's Facebook Genre: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry

Gary Geddes

The Resumption of Play

Gary Geddes, author of The Resumption of Play and Bearing Witness, has written and edited fifty books in seven genres and won a dozen national and international literary awards, including the National Poetry Prize, Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Americas Region), the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence, and Chile’s Gabriela Mistral Prize.

Speaker's Website Speaker's Facebook Genre: Poetry

Ekua Holmes

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

Ekua Holmes, illustrator of Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, is a fine artist living in Boston. The first children’s book she illustrated was Carole Boston Weatherford’s Voice of Freedom, which was a Caldecott Honor Book and a Sibert Honor Book and for which Holmes also won the John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award.

Speaker's Website Speaker's Facebook Genre: Children/Youth, Poetry

Jenny Johnson

In Full Velvet

Jenny Johnson, author of In Full Velvet, received a Whiting Award in 2015 and is currently a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2012, Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly, Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics, and elsewhere.

Genre: Poetry

Annie Kim

Into the Cyclorama

Annie Kim, author of Into the Cyclorama, won the 2015 Michael Waters Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in journals such as The Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, and Asian American Literary Review. She is the assistant dean for public service at the UVa School of Law.

Speaker's Website Genre: Poetry

Charlotte Matthews

Whistle What Can't Be Said

Charlotte Matthews, author of Whistle What Can’t Be Said, Still Enough to Be Dreaming, and Green Stars, was a TedX speaker in November 2016. She has earned fellowships from The Chatauqua Institute and The Virginia Center for Creative Arts.

Speaker's Website Speaker's Facebook Genre: Poetry

Shara McCallum


Shara McCallum is the author of Madwoman, her fifth book of poems. Originally from Jamaica, McCallum lives in Pennsylvania where she teaches and directs the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University.

Genre: Poetry

Sjohnna McCray

Rapture: Poems

Sjohnna McCray is the author of Rapture, winner of the 2015 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets. He was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and educated at Ohio University. He received his MFA from UVa. He lives and teaches in Savannah, Georgia.

Speaker's Website Speaker's Twitter Genre: Poetry